I remember when I first learned how to make this insanely easy pasta with breadcrumbs recipe. It was nearly 15 years ago when my husband told me how his Sicilian mother would frequently make it as an alternative to a tomato-based sauce.
Always eager to learn a new easy recipe, I quickly I asked her about the recipe and sure enough, it’s not only easy, but it’s full of flavor and texture thanks to the breadcrumbs!
This is probably one of easiest recipes you’ll ever make thanks to the simple ingredients. If you’ve got some long pasta, garlic, olive oil, breadcrumbs and some cheese then you’ve got a tasty and easy dinner waiting for you.
About My Pasta with Breadcrumbs Recipe
When making my pasta with breadcrumbs it’s best to use long pasta such as spaghetti or even angel hair pasta. It takes about 15 minutes total to make the dish and have it ready to serve. Yes, it’s that easy!
It will serve about 4 people, depending on how much you load up your plates!
Although the recipe is from my mother-in-law, she could never give me any specific measurements. As is typical in many Italian recipes when passed down, there are rarely specifics. They just know how to make it the way they like it – using what they have on hand.
I was left with being told “add a little bit of this”, “add a little bit of that”, and the famous, “you’ll know when it’s right”.
Well, this past week I finally documented everything out for you, including a bunch of instructional images, and put it in this post.
All you need are the following ingredients.
- Spaghetti or other long pasta. Don’t be picky – any kind will do.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Garlic cloves
- Breadcrumbs – use plain and you do not need to toast them
- Romano or Parmesan cheese for topping at the end. I’ve even eaten it without cheese; it’s that good!
How to Make Pasta With Breadcrumbs
Here are the steps for how I make pasta with breadcrumbs.
Boil and cook the pasta
The first step for making this pasta with breadcrumbs recipe is to bring a large pot of water to a boil. Use a sauce pan large enough to boil approximately ¾ a pound of pasta. Start cooking the pasta according to the instructions on the box.
Saute garlic in olive oil
While the pasta water is heating up, add the olive oil to a large sauce pan over medium-low heat and add in the chopped garlic cloves. For less garlicky flavor use only one clove of garlic. Since I love garlic, I use at least 3 cloves and dice them finely.
Let the garlic saute in the oil for about 2 minutes until fragrant.
Pro Tip: For a less garlicky flavor, use fewer cloves or just crush the cloves instead of dicing them finely. This way, people can just choose not to eat the cloves but still get some of the flavor. Otherwise, by chopping them, you have a more evenly distributed garlic flavor throughout the entire dish which is great for people like me who love garlic.
Add the breadcrumbs
If you don’t have plain breadcrumbs already, no problem, you can easily make homemade breadcrumbs. Just grab some artisan bread, tear into small pieces and put it through the blender. I used my Nutribullet when I was making the recipe today.
When you make pasta with bread crumbs, it’s a recipe that doesn’t require pre-toasted bread crumbs. Instead, they can be soft and fresh, although day-old bread is best.
Add the breadcrumbs to the olive oil and garlic and stir so the breadcrumbs are fully coated with the olive oil. Cook over medium-low heat for about 8- 10 minutes until they start to turn darker brown in color. Be careful not to burn the breadcrumbs.
Here’s an image showing the change in color. The third image was almost about to start burning so I transferred the breadcrumbs to another pan. They were 100% perfect!
Pro Tip: Breadcrumbs can burn quickly once they get very hot. So keep an eye on them. Either remove from the pan (keep the pan for later) or remove the pan from the heat to prevent burning. I’ve had to temporarily remove them from the pan because the spaghetti wasn’t done cooking and I knew they’d burn if left in the pan.
Add the pasta to the breadcrumbs
Once the pasta is done cooking, reserve a little of the pasta water and set that aside in case you need it later.
Drain and transfer the pasta to the pan with the breadcrumbs and mix it together. Notice that for my recipe, we want the breadcrumbs to be in the pasta, not just a breadcrumb topping on the pasta.
When ready to serve, top with some grated Italian cheese and enjoy!
What type of bread to use for the breadcrumbs?
The best kind of bread is at least a day or two old so that it’s slightly stale. However, with that said, I’ve often just sliced some bread from the loaf, blended it, and used it. Use what you have and don’t worry about being too picky.
We’re about easy, right?[mailerlite_form form_id=5]
Why kind of breadcrumbs to use in the pasta?
The best type of breadcrumbs to use with this recipe is plain breadcrumbs. You do not need to use panko breadcrumbs either. I blend mine in my Nutribullet and use them fresh. The olive oil will help crisp them up over the stove.
Why aren’t there any herbs added along with the breadcrumbs and pasta?
Despite the temptation to load this pasta recipe up with lot of herbs and spices, it doesn’t need it! Remember, some of the best Italian cooking is simple Italian cooking! When you use quality ingredients, you get quality results. That means using a good quality olive oil – I use extra virgin in all my cooking by default except for frying.
The garlic I use is organic and USA grown, never ever from China.
The bread I used in this recipe today is organic and ordered through Thrive Market since I didn’t have any homemade Italian bread. The Thrive Market bread is perfect for breadcrumbs in my opinion.
Storage and Reheating Tips
This recipe is much like any other pasta recipe when it comes to keeping spaghetti in the fridge as leftovers. Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
To reheat your spaghetti with the breadcrumbs simply add it to a frying pan and add about a Tablespoon of water to loosen the noodles. Place over low-medium heat until fully reheated. You can also microwave it for 2 minutes or until it’s heated through.
You can make different modifications to this recipe. Here are some ideas.
- Add juice of half a lemon
- Add some anchovies
- Add chopped parsley, Italian or curly is fine
- Add some red pepper flakes for an extra kick
You can also omit the pasta and replace it with some spiralized zucchini. I did that here in this recipe for Italian zoodles with breadcrumbs.
What to Serve with this Pasta with Breadcrumbs
Here are some ideas for what side dishes would go great with this pasta dish. I recommend at least a salad on the side.
Easy simple Italian green salad always compliments any pasta or spaghetti recipe.
Here’s a quick side dish that is healthy – sauteed zucchini in olive oil. It’s quick and always tastes great with pasta.
Other Sauce-free Pasta Recipes
Here are some recipes similar to my breadcrumbs with pasta recipe where the pasta isn’t using a red sauce.
Enjoy delicious pasta with broccoli, no sauce required!
This recipe for Pasta with lemon and asparagus is perfect for a light and refreshing meal.
Easy peasy with this Pasta and peas recipe. Minimal ingredients and super quick to make just like this pasta and breadcrumbs recipe!
A special note
I hope you enjoy this recipe. Grab the recipe card right below and I hope you enjoy eating your pasta with breadcrumbs as much as we do! Let me know in the comments below if you made any modifications and made it your own. I’d love to hear from you!
Pasta with Breadcrumbs
- 3/4 lb spaghetti pasta or other long pasta
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 cup breadcrumbs plain breadcrumbs
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, in a large frying or saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat.
- Add the chopped garlic and saute until it is fragrant – approximately 2 minutes.
- Add the breadcrumbs and stir to make sure they get coated with the olive oil. The breadcrumbs will soak up the olive oil and that is fine.
- Keep cooking the breadcrumbs over medium-low heat until they turn darker and start to crisp up. Remove from heat. This can take up to 10 minutes. But be careful they don't burn. If they start to burn, remove from heat immediately.
- When pasta is ready, save some of the pasta water in case the pasta is a little dry.
- Drain and transfer the pasta to the pan with the breadcrumbs and toss to mix well.
- If the pasta seems too dry, add a little bit of the reserved pasta water. If you forgot to reserve some, no worries, just use a drop of water.
- Serve topped with some Romano or Parmesan cheese.
- Try adding some hot red pepper flakes for some extra spice.
- If the breadcrumbs completely burn, toss them out and start over. Your stove may cook and heat differently than mine, so my recommended times may be more or less than what you need. So keep watching for doneness.
- This recipe goes great with a side salad and fresh bread.
- Feel free to adjust quantities to suit your tastes, there’s no one right way!